by Ann Douglas
This shouldn't be news to any parent who has ever driven under the influence of a screaming toddler. This just in! Having a young passenger on board increases your odds of being involved in an automobile accident.
Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia, have discovered that having a passenger on board increases your risk by 60 percent.
To reduce the likelihood that you will have an accident while you're driving with a toddler or preschooler on board, try to keep these important safety points in mind:
• Fix it before you hit the road: Try to anticipate and meet as many of your toddler's needs as possible before you hit the road.
This will help to minimize the number of times you have to divide your attention between driving and your toddler.
The University of Sydney researchers found that fully one-third of drivers who were injured in accidents were talking to or otherwise distracted by passengers at the time of their accidents.
• Have it near: Keep anything you might need during the trip within easy reach so that you don't have to distract yourself further by trying to find a toddler essential that has gone AWOL.
• Plan flex into your schedule: If you're going to be the only adult making a lengthy trip with a toddler, consider both your route and the timing. Would you be better off sticking to secondary roads (so you can pull off the road more easily and deal with your child's needs if you encounter construction-related gridlock)? Or are you pretty much stuck with construction-related gridlock no matter which way you head, in which case the only bit of "flex" in your schedule has to do with the timing of your departure?
• Bring an Emergency Kid Box: To buy yourself a bit of extra time in case you encounter an unexpected road closing or other snafu, always have more supplies for your child than you think you could possibly need (clothing, diapering supplies, food, toys, music or audio-books to entertain your child, any necessary medications, etc.
That way, you won't feel pressured to speed or drive unsafely because you have to get home before it's time for dinner or your child's next medication dose. You can relax and chill out as much as traffic will allow because you've got what you need on board.
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.
Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.